Two second-half strikes from Vágner Love helped reigning champions PFC CSKA Moskva earn a 2-1 UEFA Cup Group F win at home against PFC Levski Sofia.
Having taken just one point from their opening two Group F games, victory against the Bulgarian visitors tonight was crucial for the Moscow club. Brazilian striker Vágner Love struck twice after half-time to give Valeri Gazzaev's men a cushion and they held on despite Valeri Domovchiyski halving their lead late on to move above their opponents and on to four points in the standings.
The first half was cagey; Levski started the better before CSKA started to emerge as an attacking threat. Levski's Nigerian midfielder Richard Eromoigbe shot wide after 23 minutes and, eleven minutes later, Cédric Bardon forced home goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev into action with a shot from ten metres.
CSKA, recently crowned Russian champions, hit back towards half-time and had several chances to take an interval lead. Elvir Rahimić shot wide from near the penalty spot and then Levski keeper Georgi Petkov produced a fine parry to keep out a Rolan Gusev effort. The best move of the half came two minutes before the interval as CSKA's Brazilian midfielder Daniel Carvalho crossed for countryman Vágner Love but his header was well saved by Petkov.
CSKA's improvement continued after the break and they got their reward after 49 minutes when Vágner Love put them in front with a right-footed shot from ten metres. The 21-year-old striker almost doubled his tally, and CSKA's advantage, two minutes later but his shot was tipped round the post by the impressive Petkov.
Levski still carried a threat on the counterattack, however, and Akinfeev had to be alert to parry an Emil Angelov effort three minutes after the opening goal. However, the match was effectively sealed in CSKA's favour when Vágner Love slotted in from ten metres to make it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.
Levski had their chances to pull goal back, with substitute Milan Koprivarov seeing a shot saved by Akinfeev and another replacement Hristo Yovov heading over the bar. However, they did not score until added time, as Domovchiyski found the target, but CSKA had already done enough to revive their defence of the trophy.